Tag Archives: parks

MA 42 a.k.a. das Gartenamt

8 May

The Parks and Gardens Department in Vienna have pretty much declared summer. They have put out their summer flowers along with a welcome addition of the last few years–a sign telling you what is growing in the bed. One thing I greatly enjoy is watching the flowers grow and fill out until they reach their peak in the fall. 🙂

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A new corner of Vienna

26 Oct

Somehow I find myself avoiding my usual corners of Vienna, like Neuwaldegg or Nussberg. They’ve been so crowded recently that I’ve hardly enjoyed my walks there with Maylo. I think it’s great that so many people are out in our beautiful fall weather getting some exercise and fresh air. I just don’t want to share the space with all of them. It isn’t very restful.

Today, on the Nationalfeiertag (celebration of Austria’s neutrality clause after the Second World War), Maylo and I followed up a tip from another dog person and took the U1 out to its new (to me) terminus, Oberlaa, where there’s a clinic / spa with thermal waters.

 

My ancient (1988) Baedeker’s Austria tells me that the Kurzentrum Wien-Oberlaa is a “spa treatment establishment” opened in 1974, a date that doesn’t surprise me as it showed up constantly on the various signs in the Kurpark. The site was the scene of the Vienna International Garden Show in 1974, and a number of attractions in this 860,000-square-meter green space, like the sculpture on the RosenhĂĽgel or the Japanese garden, date back from that year.

 

Unlike many of Germany and Austria’s spa towns, Oberlaa does not seem to have a long history of people taking the waters there in spite of the fact that they, according to my Baedeker’s, have one of the strongest and hottest sulfur springs in Austria. (I figured out about the sulfur without Baedeker’s help. You smell it the moment you get out of the underground station.) So it’s not very traditional but they wasted no time in establishing two things essential to any Kurort: the park and a famous patisserie.

The park, true to Kurparks everywhere, is a carefully controlled environment suitable to people being treated for various maladies. There are paved paths, railings, lots of benches to rest on, carefully tended flowerbeds and lawns, and completely tamed bodies of water. It’s also suitable for people staying for several weeks at a time, providing different attractions like a petting zoo, restaurants, different kinds of gardens including an allergy garden(!), and, no doubt, somewhere a gazebo for concerts on fine days. We wouldn’t want people to get bored while they’re being treated!

 

Maylo and I didn’t make it to the patisserie, Kurkonditorei Oberlaa, but we wandered about the park and enjoyed ourselves, catching the impressively clean and quick U1 back into town when we had had enough.

Our excursion has inspired me to start a new practice. I’m going to try to get around to all the underground stations in Vienna to see what is there, focusing especially on those stations I don’t go to regularly. Look for more under the tag “U-Bahn stations”.

A note for my readers not familiar with the Austrian concept of Kur. A Kur is a stay, usually about three weeks, at a nice, although sometimes somewhat clinical, hotel at a place with special springs where various medical conditions are treated. Several of my friends have been on Kur for intensive physiotherapy. It’s almost de rigeur after major surgery. And sometimes it is prescribed simply because people are feeling run down. It sounds like something for rich people and did use to be. The aristocracy of Europe used to run into each other at Kurorte all over Germany and Austria and similar places of healing in Switzerland (those sanatoriums!). These days, though, it is prescribed through the national health system here and patients pay only a tiny daily rate based on their income. There’s something (else) to be said for social democracy.

This means that a Kurort is a town with such an establishment, a Kurpark is a park attached to such an establishment, and a Kurkonditorei is a Konditorei or patisserie especially associated with such an establishment, essential because the Austrians, on the whole, have never been all that good at denying themselves the pleasures of life if they could help it.

Pentecost Monday (holiday)

21 May

I found myself early-ish this morning, about 20 minutes on foot from Stephansplatz, the heart of the city, walking along in peace and quiet with a thrush singing from a rooftop on my right and a dove cooing in the park on my left. My heart sang along.

New park benches

11 Jun

This was the sight that greeted me this morning on Maylo’s walk:

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And true to form I was immediately a bit sad at the passing of the old benches and contemplative about what the change really means. Some may say that I’m reading too much into it, but I see the new style of bench as a response to two not very positive changes in Vienna over the last five years or so.

Change #1: A year or two ago I noticed that benches were disappearing from the parks. My assumption is that they were being stolen (they usually disappeared overnight) and that the new benches are a countermeasure. Understandable.

Change #2: There are more and more (homeless) people sleeping in the parks. The Austrian social system used to provide so well that you saw very few. All kinds of factors–including budget cuts and immigration–are contributing to a larger population of homeless. It may not be so visible in the photo, but the new benches are quite a bit shorter than the old benches. This, of course, makes it harder for people to sleep on them. I have very mixed feelings about that.

When changes like this come I think about the movie “You’ve Got Mail”, specifically the scene where Kathleen Kelly’s bookstore has finally succumbed to the Fox Books megastore and she is waxing philosophical about it. She says something like, “Some people would say it is an tribute to the greatness of this city, how it keeps reinventing itself, but the truth is my heart is broken. Something I loved is gone and no one can ever make it right.”

Early June in the park

2 Jun

Sweetness in the air
Tantalizing our senses
The linden blossoms

For more on linden trees in Vienna.

Behind-the-scenes Vienna

3 Jun

I caught the behind-the-scenes Vienna this morning, taking Mylo out for his walk. A few steps out of our house we passed a street cleaner in his bright orange uniform using an elaborate, clawed implement to pick up trash from the sidewalk and gutter. Upon seeing Mylo he gave us a big smile and said “Guten Morgen!”–a good start to the morning, indeed. Then, in the park, we saw the little (electric?) truck going along, one man driving and the other one walking along emptying the contents of the trash bins–considerable at this time of year as picnic season has begun–into the back of the truck. So that is why Vienna looks so clean. There is a crew backstage setting the scene just so.

The Easter weekend is coming

17 Apr

And Mylo and I took advantage of the fact that many people (e.g., clients) are out of town to go for a walk in TĂĽrkenschanz Park this afternoon. Here is some of what we saw.

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